Maintenance Myths are Costing You Money
They’ve been around awhile – a snippet of advice here, an old adage there. We learned to trust them because they worked for the people that taught us everything we know about vehicles. They’re the guidelines that are supposed to help keep cars running in top condition. The problem is, many of them aren’t based in fact, or they’re just way outdated.
Here are five things you can do to save – that add up to over $500 per year. It’s like found money!
1) Oil changes – If you’re proudly changing your engine oil every 3000 miles, you need to double check the manufacturer’s recommendations. This may have been true for older cars, but today’s vehicles will go much further between changes, often 5000 to 7500 miles, particularly if a synthetic oil is used. If you average 12,000 miles per year, this you’ll only need two oil changes yearly. That’s a $50 yearly saving for conventional oils, or about $100 if you demand synthetic. In the latter case, over the lifetime of the vehicle, you’ve got an extra $1300 in your jeans.
2) Engine Warmups – You don’t need to this anymore in cold weather. See, the carburetor and choke have gone the way of the dodo bird. Your vehicle’s engine only needs a warm-up period of about 10 seconds and beyond this, you’re just wasting gas. The engine warms up while you drive, and it does so faster than just sitting in the driveway. By giving up that 10-minute idle every weekday morning, you could save more than a gallon of gas a month. That’s $32 a year or $416 over the life of the vehicle.
3) Premium gas – While we’re on the subject of gasoline, using the gas the engine was designed for saves you money. High octane gas is not a “treat” for your engine, if it was designed to run on 87-octane. Running high octane gas does not reduce the load on the engine or improve its performance. If you actually feel it is doing this, then there is some other problem that you don’t yet know about. At current gas prices, you could save up to $150 a year by opting for unleaded gas instead of premium.
4) Keep the pressure on – The government estimates that the average driver’s tires are underinflated by 26 percent. Generally, underinflated treads lower gas mileage about a half percent for each pound when the pressure of all four tires is added up. An average driver with underinflated tires could add $79 a year to their fuel bill. But, the pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire is not the one to use for maximum savings. The recommended pressure is usually listed on the inside door panel, or check the owner’s manual to be sure. The cost of premature wear on your tires is additional.
5) Lastly, buying gas in the morning saves money – Nope. This idea was about saving money because gas was coolest and most dense after cooling overnight. Since gas is sold by volume, you would get more gas for your buck. These days, gas is sold from underground, nonmetallic tanks that typically hold about 10,000 gallons. It will take a lot of sunlight to raise the temperature even a degree.
To save money here, use the resources available to you. Radio stations often have early information on price movements, so if you’re commuting regularly, you may be able to plan when you stop for gas or skip over a day. Premium radio channels and web sites often have local gas price data, so when the time comes to fill up, this knowledge can save you a lot.
Quick research in New York City found two gas stations – less than a mile apart – with 30 cents per gallon price difference. If you know before you go and fill up for less every time, it could result in $227 in your pocket yearly, or a $2,951 saving over the lifetime of your ride.
By implementing these small changes, drivers could save up to $538 a year or $6,610 over the lifetime of their vehicle. In today’s economy, every penny counts. That’s why it’s important to get the facts.
Note: All savings estimates are calculated based on the EPA estimates for a 2010 Ford Taurus, which achieves 28 mpg highway and 18 mpg city. This model has a 19-gallon gas tank; the EPA estimates that each fill-up, at current gas prices ($2.70 a gallon), will cost $46.17 and annual fuel costs are $1,843. Severe duty use is not considered in these studies. Your results may vary.